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Gilroy ( ) is the southernmost city in Santa Clara Countymarker, Californiamarker, United Statesmarker, and in the San Francisco Bay Areamarker. The population was 41,464 at the 2000 census. Gilroy is well known for its garlic crop; the Gilroy Garlic Festival which occurs annually, featuring various garlicky foods including garlic ice cream. Gilroy also produces mushrooms in considerable quantity. Gilroy's nickname is "Garlic Capital of the World," although Gilroy does not lead the world in garlic production. While garlic is grown in Gilroy, its nickname comes from the fact that Gilroy Foods processes more garlic than any other factory in the world; most pickled, minced, and powdered garlic come from Gilroy.

Approximately eight miles northeast of Gilroy, via Gilroy Hot Springs Road, lies the famous Victorian resort Gilroy Yamato Hot Springsmarker, a California Historical Landmark. Gilroy also is home to the Gilroy Premium Outlets, a large shopping center consisting entirely of outlet stores.

Long-time local landmarks include Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Parkmarker, formerly Treehaven, Hecker Pass...A Family Adventure, (a venue for corporate picnics and birthday parties). The park is located along SR152 west of town. Past Gilroy Gardens on SR152 about 12 driving miles west of town is Mount Madonna County Park. Another large presence is the Gilroy Foods plant at .

Cattle, garlic, and strawberries, occupy acres toward Hollistermarker and San Martinmarker.


Trailblazers led by Father Junípero Serra began to arrive in the area in the 1770s, and in 1797 Mission San Juan Bautistamarker was established near the Pajaro River. In 1809, Ygnacio Ortega was granted the Spanish land concession Rancho San Ysidromarker. The village of San Ysidro (not to be confused with the present-day San Diego communitymarker) grew nearby, at the foot of Pacheco Passmarker which linked the El Camino Real and the Santa Clara Valley with the San Joaquin Valleymarker. California's main export at this time was tallow and thousands of barrels were produced and shipped to the rest of New Spain. Trade and diplomatic intercourse with foreigners was strictly forbidden by the royal government but was quietly performed by Californios desperate for luxury goods.
Gilroy welcome sign
During the War of 1812, the armed merchantman Isaac Todd was sent by the North West Company to seize Fort Astoriamarker, an American trading post at the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship departed from Portsmouth, Englandmarker, made its way around Cape Hornmarker and proceeded up the Pacific coast of the Americas, stopping at Spanish ports for supplies along the way. In January 1814, the Todd arrived at the Presidio of Monterey. During the visit, ordinary seaman John Gilroy (a Scotsmanmarker who had changed his name from John Cameron when he went to sea to avoid recognition) either jumped ship or, depending on the historical source, was left ashore to recover from scurvy. In any event he found his way to San Ysidro, converted to Roman Catholicism and became the first non-Spanish settler in Alta California legally recognized by the Spanish crown. More Americans and Europeans entered the region over time, but the area remained under the control of Spain (and after 1821, independent Mexicomarker); Gilroy married the daughter of his employer and eventually became alcalde of the village himself.

When the annexation of California by the United States in 1848 was followed by thediscovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada, the trickle of immigrants from the eastern statesbecame frequent. As many of the original Californio landowners sold off their land, lostit to squatters or were dispossessed through title hearings, the area around San Ysidro became known as Pleasant Valley. On March 12, 1870 it was officially incorporated by the state legislature as the town of Gilroy (John Gilroy had died in 1869). By then the town center had been relocated west of the El Camino Real (the locale of the original village is today a sparsely populated area known as Old Gilroymarker). Cattle ranching and timber from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountainsmarker were important to the economy for some time, but as in the rest of the valley agriculture was the town's greatest source of income. Farming remains significant, but in the 1970s the city began evolving into a bedroom community for Silicon Valley to the north.
Downtown Gilroy.
There are a number of extant historical buildings dating from the mid-nineteenth century. Built in 1857, the Christian Church at 160 Fifth Street is the oldest wood framed church in Santa Clara County in continuous use. Blacksmith George Eustice's house at 213 Fifth Street was constructed in 1869; Eustice was a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburgmarker. Samuel Moore was a long time Gilroy postmaster, whose home was built in the 1870s at 7151 Church Street. Nearby to the northeast is the historic resort site Gilroy Yamato Hot Springsmarker, developed in the late 1800s.

Telephony history

Continental Telephone offered manual telephone service until the arrival of dial phones in the late 1940s. Manual service in Gilroy used magneto phones which required the user to turn a crank in order to generate ringing battery, ringing the operator's switchboard. There were dry cell batteries inside the phones to provide talk battery.

Some manual service in rural Gilroy was on party line with complicated ringing schemes. Users heard their own rings and rings directed at other party line users. In theory, subscribers only answered their own ring. One rancher reported his ring to be, "two long and two short." Users could call someone on their own party line if they knew their ring. If their ring was "two short," for example, the user would turn the magneto crank to generate two short rings and then wait on the line. If the user didn't know their ring, the operator would help. Some manual service customers had private lines. With the acquisition of ConTel by General Telephone in the 1980s, Gilroy now has service from Verizon (General Telephone, or GTE, became part of Verizon in June 2000).

Geography and environment

Gilroy is located at . It is approximately 26 km (16 mi) south of San Jose, Californiamarker (Bailey Avenue (37.206770, -121.729150) to Monterey/Day Road (37.038210, -121.584480)) on U.S. Route 101 and 31 km (19.2 mi) inland from the Pacific Coast. Lying in a southern extension of the Santa Clara Valley at an elevation of about 61 m (200 ft) above MSL, it is bounded by the Santa Cruz Mountainsmarker to the west and the Diablo Rangemarker to the east. According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²). 41.1 km² (15.9 mi²) of it is land and 0.06% is water.

Contributing to environmental noise are primarily U.S. Route 101, El Camino Real, Leavesley Road and other major arterials. The number of people exposed to sound levels above 60 CNEL is approximately 4,000.


Due to the moderating influence of the Pacific Oceanmarker, Gilroy enjoys a mild, Mediterranean climate. Temperatures range from an average midsummer maximum of 32.3°C (90.2°F) to an average midwinter low of 0.9°C (33.6°F). Average annual precipitation is 480 mm (18.9 in), and the summer months are typically dry. Snowfall is rare, about once every 20 years, and is light and short-lived when it occurs. Summer months are characterized by coastal fog which arrives from the ocean around 10 p.m. and dissipates the next morning by 10 a.m. Winter months have many sunny and partly cloudy days, with frequent breaks between rainstorms. The local terrain is inconducive to tornadoes, severe windstorms, and thunderstorms. The local climate supports chaparral and grassland biomes, with stands of live oak at higher elevations.

Average January temperatures are a maximum of 59.6°F and a minimum of 37.1°F. Average July temperatures are a maximum of 88.2°F and a minimum of 54.2°F. There are an average of 48.4 days with highs of 90°F (32°C) or higher and an average of 25.3 days with lows of 32°F (0°C) or lower. The record high temperature of 115°F was on July 15, 1972. The record low temperature of 17°F was on December 22, 1990.

There are an average of 58 days with measurable precipitation. The wettest year was 1983 with 37.76 inches and the dryest year was 1977 with 11.17 inches. The most rainfall in one month was 14.64 inches in January 1914.


As of the United States 2000 Census, there were 41,464 people, 11,869 households, and 9,590 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,615.2/mi² (1,010.1/km²). There were 12,152 housing units at an average density of 296.0/km² (766.5/mi²). The racial makeup of the city was 58.91% White, 1.80% African American, 1.59% Native American, 4.37% Asian, 0.25% Pacific Islander, 27.73% from other races, and 5.35% from two or more races. 53.78% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 11,869 households out of which 47.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 60.8% were married couples living together, 14.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 19.2% were non-families. 14.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 5.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.46 and the average family size was 3.74.

In the city the population was spread out with 32.6% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 6.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 99.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 98.6 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $66,401, and the median income for a family was $80,371. Males had a median income of $45,759 versus $34,710 for females. The per capita income for the city was $22,071. About 7.3% of families and 10.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.8% of those under 18 and 6.5% of those 65 and older.


Arts and culture

Annual cultural events

Parks and recreation


In the state legislature Gilroy is located in the 13th Senate District, represented by Democrat Elaine Alquist, and in the 28th Assembly District, represented by Democrat Anna M. Caballero. Federally, Gilroy is located in California's 15th congressional district, which has a Cook PVI of D +14 and is represented by Democrat Mike Honda.






Major highways

Public transportation



Notable natives and residents

Victor Avila- Professional Soccer Player for chivas- 2 years in San Quentin


  1. Santa Clara County Heritage Resource Inventory, Santa Clara County Historical Heritage Commission, published by Santa Clara County, San Jose, Ca., June, 1979
  2. C. Michael Hogan, Ballard George and Marc Papineau, Noise Element of the General Plan, Earth Metrics, published by the city of Gilroy (1982)

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